Michigan State coach Izzo and guard Harris look on in the final minute of their loss to Duke during the Midwest Regional NCAA men's basketball game in Indianapolis

Saturday’s Pregame Shootaround: Michigan State faces another neutral-site test

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 1 Michigan State vs. Oklahoma, 9:30 p.m. (TruTV) 

The Spartans face another early-season neutral-site game against 4-0 Oklahoma in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The No. 1 team in America is still 5-0 and as long as point guard Keith Appling continues to play at a high level, the Spartans are talented and balanced enough to remain unbeaten.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Mississippi State at Utah State, 9:05 p.m. 

A couple of unbeatens clash as an SEC school heads into Utah State, which is one of the toughest environments in college basketball. Its an interesting early-season nonconference game that the mid-major program will be heavily favored.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Fresno State at Pacific, 10:30 p.m.

If you are in the mood for some late-night hoops, check out this enticing mid-major contest between Fresno State and Pacific. New head coach Ron Verlin has the Tigers undefeated at 3-0 and they’ll be tested by their talented interstate rival, Fresno State.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH: 

1) The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers take the floor against Oral Roberts after scoring 103 points in a win over North Dakota and 88 points in a win over Bowling Green. How does Wisconsin follow that up and will their offense keep rolling?

2) North Carolina is still ranked after last week’s home loss to Belmont, coming in at No. 24. How do the Tar Heels respond against a solid Richmond team?

3) Although Oklahoma and Michigan State is the marquee matchup of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Brooklyn, the undercard of Seton Hall and Virginia Tech is a battle of 3-2 teams looking for a solid win on a neutral court. Virginia Tech is still meshing with forward C.J. Barksdale after his suspension so that will be a development to track as well.

4) New Mexico State is the favorite in the heavily re-done WAC and one of their key nonconference games comes at UTEP on Saturday night. Tim Floyd’s team is talented and should give the Aggies a great test.

5) Louisville should handle Fairfield, but they are still getting some pieces in place as Chane Behanan and Luke Hancock continue to adjust to game speed and playing with some of the Cardinals new pieces. On a neutral site in a tournament setting, is Louisville going to show us what they’re fully capable of?

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Fairfield vs. No. 3 Louisville, 2:00 p.m.
  • Nicholls State at No. 11 Memphis, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Oral Roberts vs. No. 12 Wisconsin, 8:30 p.m. (BTN)
  • Tulsa at No. 23 Creighton, 3:30 p.m. (FSN)
  • Richmond vs. No. 24 North Carolina, 11:00 a.m.

NOTABLES: 

  • William & Mary at Rutgers, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Butler vs. Ball State, 2:00 p.m.
  • Gardner-Webb vs. Missouri, 3:30 p.m.
  • Seton Hall vs. Virginia Tech, 7:00 p.m. (TruTV)
  • New Mexico State at UTEP, 9:05 p.m.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk

Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (2) shoots over Cincinnati forward Quadri Moore (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.

Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.

For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.

(H/T: The Cauldron)